We Passed!! Without having to bribe anybody!! But let me start from the beginning...
We boarded the bus in San Jacinto, thru Rocafuerte, into PortoViejo, $1 each. Changed to the Reina de Camino bus, which we've taken before, but this time it was $10 instead of $8, and FREEZING! Got into Guayaquil about 5:30, caught a taxi to the hotel I'd booked online. Taxi was $5, which was too much for the distance we traveled, but we didn't know how far the hotel was...oh well. Room was nice, $66 free wifi, and desayano in the am (breakfast).
Got our stuff in the room, and walked a couple blocks to the recommended Chifa restaurant, (Chinese) it was quite good, our first in Ecuador.
Saw a store I'd heard of across the street, so after dinner walked over to it, called MegaKywi, it's a HomeDepot on steroids! Didn't have the camera, but it was THE place for home improvement stuff, selection was crazy huge!
Taxi in the am, after breakfast, cafe con leche, scrambled eggs, juice, toast with marmalade.
Met up with Catalina and headed to the port. Had to wear jeans and rent steel toed shoes, borrowed hard hat and vest. At the port we got fingerprinted and pictures, I am now cleared for port access, we boarded a bus that took us to our inspection yard. Except that when we got there my container was not there! Catalina got on the phone, talked to someone, and next thing I know we are getting back on the bus and leaving! In the car, away from the port, What?! Turns out we were at the wrong part of the port. Don't know if we got bad information, or if Catalina was not paying attention...
Again, fingerprints and pictures, but this time my clearance came faster than hers, and because we were over an hour late, I had to go in BY MYSELF!
Luckily I looked extremely confused and lost and was pointed in the right direction, one of the supervisors in the inspection yard spoke English and I was able to get my inspector, helpers and get started. The helpers (in orange) have to take everything out, and then we have to open every box!
The inspector comes looks at everything (the inspector has already recieved the inventory sheets ahead of time) takes pictures of every box, then we close every box and the helpers pack it all back in the container. Most of our boxes were Rubbermaid totes, and plastic bins so we just had to take the lids off, but the container next to mine had cardboard boxes and they all had to be re-taped. My fragiles were in bubble wrap so the inspector could see what it was, the container next to us, had their items wrapped in brown paper, so the inspector was making the helpers unwrap items in the boxes, pretty labor intensive! We were done in about 3 hours, the container next to us had started before we got there, and still weren't finished when we left, the boxes said Guatemala, don't know if they were more diligent because of that, or if it was just at the discretion of the inspector, but my inspector was easy, thank goodness! We passed and no bribe! $5 tip to each of the helpers, after the supervisor patted them down to make sure they didn't take anything.
After we were done, container re packed and sealed, we went to find out how much we owed, was told the port fees were $675 ( hey wait, I just paid port fees for $678!) the trucking company will be $700 and the rental on the container is going to be over $2000! WTF?!? Yep, that's $70 per day for at least 30 days! Yikes...gonna have to scramble to get that, get cash advances from the credit cards, ouch! So to recap, $5500 to ExpressCargo, $678 to PacificLink (?) $1000 customs bond, $1000 container return guarantee = already paid, now due another $675 (?) + $700 (trucking from Guayaquil to the house in San Alejo) and $2000 rental (they call it overstay fees) not to mention I'll need unloaders here at the house. Probably 5 guys at $20-40, so that's another $200. Add that all up and we are close to $12,000!!! Should get $2000 reimbursed, the bond (after we get residency) and the container guarantee after the empty container is returned...but yikes! Makes me sick to my stomach!
But, the good news is it's almost over, and some day it won't hurt so much. It'll be an interesting story to tell, all part of the adventure. Today, it's laundry (by hand and hang on the line) watch for Angel for our fruit and veg supply and walk the pups on the beach, Awww back to normal. As long as we can get enough money together we should have delivery of the container next week, and it'll be good to not be "camping" in the house, but really sart to LIVE here. So...stay tuned! The adventure continues!